Saturday, January 28, 2006
The Resurrection of the Body
There is a macabre new exhibit en route to the Museum of Nature and Science in Denver, BodyWorlds 2: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies. These are the plastic-infused bodies of people who donated their bodies to science, displayed in various stages of dissection.
This raises some interesting ethical questions. In the past, people have carefully disposed with the bodies of their dead because they believed that there is something beyond the merely physical about a human being. We have collectively abhorred cultures and individuals which have discarded or eaten their dead. Even now, we recognize some ethical discomfort over displaying centuries-old mummies. The Christian West has even frowned upon cremation, looking forward in its funerary traditions, to the resurrection of the body. So what's up with this display, reported to be one of the world's most popular traveling exhibits?
Is this the ultimate declaration that a human being is exclusively a bag of chemicals? Nothing more than matter? Is it an invitation to understand and to marvel at the wonder of the workings of God's creation? Is it merely voyeuristic? How would one express respect for the people who inhabited these bodies in an exhibit of this kind?
I'd be interested in your thoughts...